Sen. Coburn R-OK: “Let Them Eat Cake”

The Debate Over Health Care Reform Comes Home

Just A Minute

The Debate Over Health Care Reform Comes Home

By Ronald H. Bailey

I didn’t see anyone packing a gun. There were no shouted disruptions. No one invoked the phony specter of the nonexistent “death panels” that supposedly threaten Grandma.

Last week two of our elected federal representatives–Congressman Scott Murphy and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand–came to Delaware County to meet with constituents and hear their concerns. The discussions were remarkably civil.

On Tuesday morning, Murphy–the winner by a few hundred votes in a hotly contested special election to succeed Gillibrand in the 20th CD seat last March–showed up at the Meridale Deli and Grocery in the heart of Meridale. This is my neighborhood store, and, in fact, the only such establishment in the Town of Meredith.

The occasion was not one of those raucous town hall meetings that have bedeviled members of Congress these past few weeks. It was instead a Congress-on-Your-Corner event of the kind pioneered by Murphy’s predecessor, Kirsten Gillibrand.

These events allow constituents to get help with Social Security and other federal programs and to question their elected representative up close and personal. Questions for Murphy ranged over a number of issues, from the depressed price of milk paid dairy farmers to the possibility that cell phone towers might emit unhealthy radiation.

But the main concern among the three dozen or so local folks in attendance was health care reform. Murphy made clear that he favored the public option advocated by President Obama–a government-run program that would compete with private insurers and help hold down costs.

The discussion was spirited but polite. One woman cited problems she had experienced in dealing with Medicare. A man expressed distrust of any government program, including Social Security. Others spoke up for the government’s role, praising the public option or even a single-payer system such as that in Canada in which the government provides medical insurance for everyone.

After about 45 minutes in Meridale, Congressman Murphy moved on to the County Fair in Walton and later to another Congress-on-Your-Corner session in the village of Franklin without incident. He has promised to visit every town in his district during his foreshortened term in office. He will be up for reelection next year.

Senator Gillibrand visited the County Fair on Saturday and then attended a $25-a-person reception at Danny’s Restaurant in Walton to benefit Democratic candidates in this fall’s town elections. (Full disclosure: I am a Democratic town chair and did some volunteer writing for her nearly four years ago at the beginning of her first congressional campaign.)

Few of the 40-some people at the reception had seen Gillibrand since Governor David Paterson appointed her to Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. Paterson has made many miscues since he assumed office, but selecting Gillibrand was a smart move. She is bright, a mainstream moderate and a formidable enough campaigner that strong potential challengers such as Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney–both popular members of Congress–have opted not to go against her in a Democratic primary next year.

I was pleased to hear her position on health care reform. She is not only strongly in favor of the public option but spells out how it should be achieved. She advocates “Medicare for all.” People of any age could buy into Medicare for a certain percentage of their family earnings. The mechanism is already in place. And as a happy beneficiary of current Medicare, I consider it a highly successful program.

The meteoric rise and political evolution of Gillibrand has been fascinating to watch. I remember that a colleague and I talked to Gillibrand about single payer health care at the very beginning of her campaign for Congress. She was worried about what would happen to the health insurance industry. I heard no such concerns on Saturday.

The only naysayer at the reception was a woman I didn’t recognize. She asked a series of questions about the financial state of Medicare and Social Security–fair game, to be sure, but she had a critical, even rude, edge. At the end she was muttering about “taxing the rich.”

I suspected she might be a tea-bagger plant. In fact, she is a registered Conservative Party member from Sidney, married to a registered Republican. I appreciate her $25 donation to the County Democratic Committee and hope she enjoyed the good food and our congeniality.

RIP Ted Kennedy

I have no idea who will take his place.  I don’t mean as Senator from Mass, hopefully, that will be one of my classmates-Mike Capuano or Ed Markey.  No..I mean who will speak for the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the homeless, the undocumented, the immigrant?

Don’t hold your breath for the Blue Dogs and their ilk.  They are bought and paid for by the highest bidder.  Right now its the healthcare industry.  Next time it will be some other corporate interest.

The Repugs are on another planet-Thank you, Barney Frank.  Maybe Barney would be a good Senator.  He would certainly drive the Blue Dogs and their Repug friends crazy.

Maybe Bernie Sanders or Russ Feingold will pick up the mantle of the “Lion of Liberalism”; but they are marginalized and ignored by the corporate media.

I am saddened by the end of an era in which all things seemed possible.  Teddy’s passing leaves us with Blue Dog turncoats and Repug mad hatters in control of the public debate.

Rest well, Teddy.  We will miss you.

Tell Obama: The public option is not optional.

CREDO Action | more than a network. a movement.

Tell Obama:
The public option is not optional.

Your message to President Obama:

“When it comes to health care reform, the public option is not optional. You campaigned on change and on a health care plan that included a public option. But aside from single payer, a health care bill without a robust public option is just more of the same. If you are sincere about supporting the public plan, tell Congress and the voters that you will not sign a bill without a robust public option similar to Medicare.”

Clicking here will add your name to the petition. Sign the Petition.

President Obama needs to hear from us about the public option.

If we don’t make a stand now for a public option, the Obama administration may hedge on its plan for health care reform.

This weekend, the Obama administration indicated that it might be open to passing health care reform without any provision for a public insurance option similar to Medicare that could compete with private insurance companies.

President Obama said that a public option was just a “sliver” of his plan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius went so far as to say that the public option was not an “essential” part of reform.

The comments this weekend by the president and Secretary Sebelius rhetorically pave the way for the Obama administration to cave on a meaningful public option and instead accept toothless regional health care co-ops that would be unable to compete with insurance companies and keep them honest.

Help us remind President Obama that part of the reason he won the presidency was his plan to enact major health care reform that included a public option, a provision that 76% of Americans support.

Click here to automatically add your name to the above petition asking President Obama to tell Congress and the voters that he will only sign a bill with a robust public option similar to Medicare.

Thank you for working to secure real health care reform.

Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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Barney Frank Shows How to Answer Teabaggers

Faith For Health

President Obama will be on a forty minute, nationwide phone call with the UUA and other national religious denominations on Wednesday, August 19 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern / 4:00 p.m. Central / 3:00 p.m. Mountain / 2:00 p.m. Pacific. The goal of the call is to connect and energize the millions of people of faith across the country who are concerned about health care and who want to be part of the solution. To RSVP for the nationwide phone call, go to: www.faithforhealth.org/uua. To listen in on the call, log on towww.faithforhealth.org or dial 347-996-5501 (no passcode, long-distance charges may apply).

Read Rev. Art McDonald’s blog post on why it’s so important to take part in this action. Forward this information to your friends, colleagues, congregants, co-workers, neighbors and family members. And post the link on your Facebook page, Twitter page, and other social networking sites.

The public option is not optional

I don’t know how effective this sort of thing is; but it keeps me from punching the TV and/or computer:
If we don’t make a stand now for a public option, the Obama administration may hedge on its plan for health care reform.

This weekend, the Obama administration indicated that it might be open to passing health care reform without any provision for a public insurance option similar to Medicare that could compete with private insurance companies.

President Obama said that a public option was just a “sliver” of his plan. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius went so far as to say that the public option was not an “essential” part of reform.

The comments this weekend by the president and Secretary Sebelius rhetorically pave the way for the Obama administration to cave on a meaningful public option and instead accept toothless regional health care co-ops that would be unable to compete with insurance companies and keep them honest.

I just signed a petition to tell President Obama that the public option is not optional and that he should tell Congress and the voters that he will not sign a bill without a robust public option similar to Medicare.

I hope you will sign this petition too. Please have a look and take action.

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/publicoption_bo/?r_by=5551-821991-AikbSjx&rc=paste1